Friday, June 25, 2010

shhhh.

I read blogs when I should be working. 

Great new-job event last night. Although I am beyond excited for the actual work I'll be doing, I feel so incredibly lucky to be working with such a smart, thoughtful, funny, and passionate group of people. 

While I'm still really sad to be saying goodbye to AmeriCorps, the I'm excited for the next step, and looking at community engagement at a different level.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Something David Letterman and I have in common

A love of lists:


5 Things I am Very Excited For:
1. New job!
2. New house (move in is only a few weeks away! Seriously, when I have a moment the new house deserves an update)
3. Anniversary Tonto roadtrip (boyfriend and I have been together for three years. Sheesh.)
4. End of AmeriCorps
5. Civic engagement project at new job, specifically

If I were to make a list of five things I am currently terrified of, it would be the exact same list--the new job stuff makes sense, I suppose--typical fear of failure--but everything else is a little stranger. As I get older, I find myself becoming more and more afraid of change and commitment.

My trepidation I feel about he anniversary and new house are directly related. Boyfriend and I have been together for three years now--an amount of time that just seems unreal and bizarre. Not to say that I'm not grateful for it, and every second means the world to me, but that's a lot of time for someone who's 23. The new house is our first place alone together. We've been living together for the past two years, but in a house full of roommates. This time it's just mano y mano, and that's a little scary. There's also the money stuff--it'll be an increase in rent, and no more splitting utilities five ways. That's scary too.

Could a quarter-life crisis be brewing? I hope not. I feel like I've had six already. If those are just a warm up, we should all duck and cover.

Picture from here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Crush

New hair idol:

Suze Rotolo


PS - I found a new apartment! It's pretty amazing. More to come.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer uniform

Currently loving the "Women of Mad Men" style posts on Tom & Lorenzo, and obsessing over Midge. She's a minor character in Season 1, and I didn't pay that much attention to her when I watched the show initially. I mean, how could you, when there is so much delicious Betty and Joan to drink up?

 Via

However, after reading these posts, I can't help but DESPERATELY need well tailored, high-waisted, black cigarette pants and a little bohemian half shirt. I imagine rocking the half-shirt with a pair of cut-offs and huaraches, serving margaritas on my front porch to friends.

I have tried Googling "cute boho half shirt" with no luck. If someone finds one, let me know. I'm about 98% sure this shirt and cut-offs combo would replace my romper (!) as my go-to summer staple, so really, I'd be doing the world a favor by finding one.

On an unrelated note, the days are becoming unbearable (110 last weekend) but I love the hot summer nights. The air is warm and you start to treasure the breeze. It makes me itchy for all-night conversations with old friends, driving out into the desert until I can see stars, cold drinks and mixtapes. I can't wait for monsoon season to start. Warm thunderstorms are the best part of living in the desert.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thomas Jefferson, I presume?


Awww yeah.

Found this little lovely while on an impromptu thrift store outing with the boyfriend. I shouldn't have bought anything (I'll be moving before August) but I couldn't resist a founding father in a mustard frame. He's been mine for a little over an hour, and I'm already referring to him affectionately as "T.J."

I also bought a sweet little milk glass vase for 50 cents. I've been wanting one for a while to stuff with these.

Now I just wish that I knew where TJ and I would be hanging our hats.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A small pick me up

From The West Wing (or, how I wish the world actually worked):

Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes. We need gigantic revolutionary changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge for its citizens, just like national defense. That is my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet. - Sam

It is in the spirit of Andrew Jackson that I, from time to time, ask senior staff to have face-to-face meetings with those people representing organizations who have a difficult time getting our attention. I know the more jaded among you, see this as something rather beneath you. But I assure you that listening to the voices of passionate Americans is beneath no one, and surely not the peoples' servants. - Leo

Hearing those two mini-monologues always makes me feel better.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

FTW

I got a job, kids. And it's exactly what I wanted.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tonto, again








I hate camping. Hiking, exploring, grilling, campfires, s'mores, yes. Actually sleeping outside, being shower-less, no. I tried. I really did--but I really just want to sleep in a real bed, and take a shower when I wake up in the morning. This is my life. Don't judge me.

The hike we took was gorgeous--up through mini-mountains by Sycamore Creek, to an abandoned copper mine and caves that are now (surprisingly) full of water. I took a lot of pictures of the creek, small waterfalls, wading pools, and flooded washes. Seeing natural, flowing water still seems like an anomaly or small miracle.  I nerded out over cool rocks and threw pieces of shale against the trail to see it break across the thin, perfectly parallel layers. I imagined the creatures living in the epeiric sea that created it.


The best part? Boyfriend handed me a leaf, and said, "It's a tree star. Yep yep yep!"

Oi, I melt.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine takes a shaky step forward

I was feeling huffy and ignored because a bunch of my favorite bloggers haven't been updated as frequently as I'd like them to. And by that, I mean every day.

I then realized that maybe I should do a little writing myself before I judge.

I had an absolutely amazing meeting with my program manager yesterday--just talking about what I'm doing after my year of service, what my next steps are, and what I want. Having a chance to talk out my dreams and worries and plans with someone was fantastic for clearing my head and coming to a place where I feel comfortable.

I'm on the right track. I just need to keep going.

Small successes: being nominated, taking a deep breath, and trying something new. Apartment Therapy is having their annual meet up in a few weeks, and I RSVP'ed to attend the one closest to me. I'm pretty excited about it. I'll give me a chance to reach out to people who have similar tastes and hobbies to mine, and to practice what I preach about all that community building stuff.

It's starting to really warm up, and against my better judgment, I'm going camping this weekend. I'll let you know how that works out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

ON pining and planning

It seems that my little excursion last weekend didn't whet my appetite for the open road. I'm wanting the ocean, people.

My boyfriend is handsome (oh, how I miss his long hair). 

Picture from two years ago, when he and I took our first trip to California. He and I had only done a few small trips to Flagstaff before, and he had planned both trips. He's much more of the "it'll work itself out when we get there" type, while I had our hotel reserved a month in advance, with a clear plan of restaurants and things to do. We've had fun on every trip that we've taken together, so I guess it really doesn't matter if I don't have a precise itinerary. I just really like making lists.

Like right now.

In the next two months, I will be unemployed and homeless (so to speak). My term of service with AmeriCorps will be over at the end of June, and my lease is up at the end of July. I do not know where I will be working or where I will live. This terrifies me. And excites me, just a smidge.

I've been applying for jobs here and there, but the unholy trinity of a bad economy, almost no experience, and a degree that translates to almost nothing (good job, Global Studies. Pfft.) are not working in my favor.

A few really amazing opportunities have been presented to me--but they'd be unpaid. I've been interning with a political campaign for the past five months, and I've been given some amazing responsibility and I love what I'm doing--and I'm doing it well.  A friend of mine has also asked that I help with rolling out his organization's election communication plan. Um, yes. Hi. Dream jobs. Both of them.

There's only the tiny problem of needing to pay the bills. I've applied for jobs that would pay me (ha! novel concept) but I wouldn't be doing the type of work I want to, just putting in entry level time at either organizations with missions that I feel good about, or that might someday lead to more responsibility or an "in" to the communications department.

So, do I find a serving / bartending / receptionist job to pay the bills, and take the unpaid experience for what it's worth? Or do I plug away at something that I might make marginally more money at, but doesn't do much in the way of what I want to do?

Plus, I really, really want to go to grad school--but I don't want to A) take a GRE and actually, you know, apply and B) loose my network here in Phoenix. I have an amazing group of friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, classmates, and professors who I can call on for an extra volunteer, a reference, or an introduction. If I started studying now, it would be at least a year before I could start.

As of now, I'm leaning toward the "unpaid opportunities." I don't have a car payment, credit card debt, a mortgage, a husband, or kids. My student loans are negligible. If there was a time to work for free, this would be it.

So, forces of the universe / internet, if you were me, what would you do?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine ventures east



Mini road trip with the boyfriend today. We drove through my favorite part of Arizona, the Tonto National Forest, to Saguaro Lake and Payson.

Growing up, I never appreciated how beautiful the desert is. I thought it was brown, dry, dead. I think these pictures can easily prove me wrong.

We had a great day until our trip to Roosevelt Lake was canceled, thanks to my car overheating. The little chipmunks in my engine didn't like running up so many hills in 90 degree weather. I had packed us a Ploughman's picnic lunch for us to eat at the marina, which was unceremoniously relocated to the back seat of my car while the engine cooled down.

Strangely enough, eating hunks of baguette and brie cross-legged in the back seat of my Civic was fun with the boyfriend. Simply put, he is my best friend, and I love him. Even with the detour, I had a great day.

PLUS, Urban Cowboy is on the Country Music Channel. Who doesn't love that?

PS - YUP, that's my romper.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine's wish is (almost) granted

GUYS.

Remember how I love Phoenix?

Let's not even talk about how bad I want these, which I saw on The Kitchn

PUHHLEASE. I'm dying, seriously. I need them, but at $78 for 4, I'm going to have to wait. Le sigh.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

IN WHICH we discuss hometown pride and shame

Although I'm pretty embarrassed to be an Arizonan right now, I really, really love Phoenix. I love the heat, the mid-century architecture, the challenge of reaching past strip malls to find locally owned businesses and restaurants. I love that I'm never more than a short road trip from the desert, the mountains, the oceans, or a completely different country. I love that Phoenix is young and that I have the opportunity to build a community. I love that I can get the amazing burritos 24 hours a day. 

I know I can't be the only one.

I just wish someone more talented than I would make a Phoenix poster, like one of these:
Or the fabulous Ork Posters! (D.C.! Le sigh.)

So... can someone get on making me a Phoenix poster right quick? Thanks. 

(I had a bit of a blog epiphany the other day. I thought about posting said (rambling) epiphany, but that's not important. What really just needs to be said is that I started this blog so I could write, and I wasn't writing because I didn't think what I wanted to say fit in, and that I didn't do anything "cool" enough to write about. Pardon me, but that is clearly twisted logic. So things might change. Who knows?)

This weekend the boyfriend and I are taking a road trip to Payson and the Tonto National Forest. I'm pretty excited. I will take pictures! They will be poor quality. 

Also, I bought a romper? And I like it, but I'm pretty sure it's terrible.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine makes an attempt at art

In my attempt to turn my house into "decently cool college pad" to "vintage and fun adult home," I've been trying to move away from band and movie posters and toward collecting art--pieces that speak to me and reflect my sense of humor, values, and how guests feel in my home. Working for an arts organization has been a really great part of that transition, and has introduced me to a million artists and perspectives that I wouldn't know otherwise.

Clearly, I don't have the budget to get anything super impressive, so I've been scouring the internet and local artists for prints and small pieces. I was lucky enough to pick up the piece I mentioned in this post, and I spend hours going through 20x200 and Etsy.
And then I found this--and, of course, it's out of stock everywhere I look. But because I'm determined, and relatively crafty, I rounded up the boyfriend and we riffed on the idea:

 
  

I only have two "process" pictures, because it wasn't until I was almost done that the boyfriend reminded me that I wanted to blog about it. ... Oops.
But, here's a brief rundown of what we did:
  • Create a stencil by printing out the quote and cutting out the letters with an X-acto knife. The font we used was Captain Howdy (the same one used on my banner--download for free here), in 250 point font (Good was in 275)
  • We watered down the aqua paint and then used a dry, foam brush to drag it across about a 1/3 of the canvas
  • Let the paint dry
  • Tape down the stencil to the canvas using double stick tape
  • Using a foam brush, almost sponge the paint into the stencil, come back over in a brushing motion to remove the sponge texture
  • Let the paint dry, and paint the heart
Here's the finished product:
 
Cute, right? The boyfriend and I are going to hang it in our bedroom, I'm just not sure where yet.

It was a pretty simple project, but making our own stencil was a pain. Cutting out all those letters sucked pretty bad, but I'm pretty sure it would have sucked worse to try and do a whole little quote using the pre-made stencils from the craft store.

The canvas came in a pack of two, so I still have one left, but I'm waiting for inspiration to strike before I get my art on again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine bursts from the seams

I made this for dinner.

I'm not taking pictures or re-posting the recipe because I am too full. Gina's pictures and instructions are more than adequate. Besides, let's not lie--her pictures are prettier than mine would be.

I will say that it is delicious and a big hit with my roommates. I will also say that I am uncomfortably full.

You should make this.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

IN WHICH we discuss color obsessions

In case you haven't guessed, I'm just the tiniest bit neurotic. And a little bit obsessive. Just a bit.

On top of making endless lists and color-coding my calendar, I find myself going through different phases where I am unexplicably drawn to certain colors. A few winters ago, it was eggplant. I bought a purse, a long coat, a pair of really cute little flats. I have more mustard accessories than I care to admit. Right now, that color is a dark teal:

 
Dress, Forever 21 (Seriously, guys. Have you seen their new Boutique collection? TO DIE FOR.)
Blazer, Gap, thrifted from Sunset Clothing Exchange
Purse & Moccasins, Old Navy (50%!)

I also bought this shirt, which isn't in the picture because it's in the laundry. 

I picked up on my fashion-related color obsession a few years ago, so I know how to deal with it--identify the problem, and try to buy new pieces that will coordinate well with it. And neutrals. I always have to force myself to wear neutrals, because, apparently, some would say that mustard doesn't match everything. (Fools)

However, a few days ago, I realized that my color obsession extends to housewares, too. You know what my color-for-home obsession at the moment?


 
Vintage velvet swivel easy chair / rocker, Goodwill. Yeah, it's pretty much the coolest chair ever. Way to go, me.

Orange. 

Uh, yeah, like anything goes with that. 

Remember when I found out about the Shakespeare Billys? You know which one I found myself lingering over? The orange one. I just bought a piece of art from my work's silent auction:


 
Photo via the artist, Jon Arvizu

And I'm totally lusting over this piece from Cozy Little Cave:


 
$25 on Etsy

I need help. If left to my own devices, my house is going to look like a Chester the Cheetah threw up.

Do you find yourself being drawn to certain colors frequently, to--dare I say--excess? How do you deal with the impulse to throw a certain color all over your house?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

IN WHICH our prodigal heroine returns

GUYS.

I'm back! For the most part. My real life is really busy, and that's awesome, but I missed writing and there have been a million and a half really exciting, fabulous things that are going on in the world, like Liberty of London for Target. WHAT? SERIOUSLY AWESOME.

And I totally missed the limited-edition Billy J√ĄDER from Ikea.

 
Photo via Home Shopping Spy  

To celebrate the 30th birthday of the Billy system, Ikea released the bookcase covered in graffiti-style SHAKESPEARE QUOTES. I had no idea they even existed until I stumbled into Ikea two nights ago to help a friend pick out lighting. 

Take a moment to nerd out with me.

I want one SO BAD. I just told myself that I wouldn't make any furniture purchases till this fall--my lease is up in August, and I won't be renewing it. Less stuff to move, you dig?

Maybe I could just buy one and keep it in the box until I get to my new space?

(P.S. I'm going to try really hard to get a new "real" post up by tomorrow)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine is defeated

Not in a terribly bad way, guys.

But work / internship / life keeps me really busy, and I don't have time for regular updates. I'm pretty excited for a lot of things coming up, but for now, we're going on a short hiatus.

<3

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine discusses tradition

Tuesdays are Burrito Night.

It's a fun little tradition I stole from Alicia at bread & honey. It started this summer when I was just learning how to be broke (before I became an expert as a professional volunteer), and the cheapness of burritos were very appealing. Also, I'm really sappy, and I liked the idea sitting down with my boyfriend every night and building traditions together.

Burrito Night started with just me and the boyfriend, but it slowly grew to include our three other roommates and a group of four or five friends who show up when they can. When we have the extra time, we make a special trip down to one of the local Mexican grocery stores (reason eleven-million Arizona is awesome) and we'll grab freshly made tortillas or salsa. The roommates and I split the cost of tortillas, beans, rice, cheese, and an array of hot sauces:

We take hot sauce very seriously in this house.

Friends bring something that can be served alongside or inside of a burrito: beer, guac, carne asada if you really like me. It keeps things interesting. During dinner, we all pile into the living room and watch a movie or Law & Order: SVU re-runs on cable.

I don't have recipes to post, because we don't do anything fancy: I make a few cups of rice, open a couple cans of beans, and let people make whatever concoctions they will:

 
 
 

Burrito Night is simple. It requires minimal prep and almost no money, but at the end of the night, you have a living room full of satisfied friends, and I can't think of anything better than that. 


Monday, January 11, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine conquers the Crock Pot

Today, in Tempe (the suburb of Phoenix in which I reside) the high was 70°F. Yeah, it's pretty awesome. WHAT UP, MINNESOTA? It has also ruined me for anywhere else in the entire world, because I am a wimp.

Because of the aforementioned lovely weather, the boyfriend and I hosted a small barbeque. He took care of the actual grilling portion (Fresh and Easy Spicy Grill pack, Food City carne asada, and hot dogs), my roommate put out a few bottles of his home brew, and I whipped up a few sides: Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese, and Picnic Potato Salad

I don't really like potato salad--or anything with mayonnaise, for that matter--and so when I saw this recipe that used sour cream instead, I thought I'd give it a try. Girlfriend LOVES sour cream.


My food photography skills are not up to snuff. Also, I don't think potato salad ever looks pretty.

Picnic Potato Salad (adapted from BudgetBytes)

3.5 lbs of small red potatoes
8 oz  + 2 Tbsp light sour cream (I'm guessing, it was about 2/3 of a 16 oz container)
2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 handful fresh chopped parsley
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp whole mustard seeds
crushed red pepper, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and dice potatoes. I did slightly smaller than bite sized--they cooked faster, and I think it's rude to try and make people shove a forkful of big potato pieces in their mouth. Throw into a big pot, and cover potatoes with water. Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and a little bit of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain, and spread out on a cookie sheet so they can cool completely. (That cookie sheet tip was in the original recipe, and I thought it was SUPER SMART. Why didn't I think of that?)

In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings as you see necessary.

When potatoes are cool, add them to sour cream mixture, toss till potatoes are coated evenly. Cover, and let it chill for at least two hours--I let mine sit overnight

Verdict: Well, I didn't hate it the way I usually hate potato salad, but it was really bland. The boyfriend liked it, and he's a fan of regular potato salad, so maybe his opinion is worth more than mine on this one.

However, I was a real big fan of the Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese. It was cheesy and gooey and required almost no effort on my part. It was a big hit with the crowd, and there was NONE left at the end of the night.


My best friend Zach! He suggested I throw in some bacon next time.


Nic, eating the last bit he scraped out of the Crock Pot.

I've made this once before for a pot luck, and was told (by a Southerner) it was the "best Southern-style macaroni and cheese" they'd had. This is a really good recipe for a potluck because:
1. You make it in a Crock Pot, thus no reheating issues
2. It is vegetarian, but hearty and filling
3. Everyone likes mac and cheese, DUH



Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking)

1/2 lb uncooked macaroni
4 cups milk (I use skim cow)
1 egg
4 cups shredded cheese (I use sharp cheddar)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder (The recipe calls for dried mustard, which I didn't have, and garlic tastes good in everything, so... yeah)
butter / margarine / cooking spray

Coat the inside of your crock pot with butter / cooking spray / whatever. (This makes it approximately one bajillion times easier to clean) Pour in macaroni and cheese, and stir till cheese is evenly distributed.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together milk and egg until the egg is completely combined. Add seasonings, and then pour milk over the macaroni and cheese in the crock pot. Stir to distribute milk. It will be VERY liquidy.

The recipe says to cook on low 2-5 hours, or on high for 1-3. I put mine on high, and it was ready in about 3, 3 1/2 hours.

You should make this, like, tomorrow. From what I understand, the weather is not so lovely in other parts of the world right now, and this is a great winter-time comfort food. Also, it is delicious and let's you be impressive and lazy AT THE SAME TIME. Awesome.


Monday, January 4, 2010

IN WHICH our heroine discovers the classier side of taxidermy

I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl. I hate dirt, bugs, and the cold the way I should hate Jersey Shore.

Having said that, it seems only fair that I should be punished for my reality TV transgressions by dating the modern equivalent of a mountain man. He likes hunting, fishing, camping, preparing for the apocalypse, and wearing cargo pants and things made out of Gore-Tex.

As you can imagine, trying to please the both of us at the same time during a Sunday morning window shopping expedition can be tricky. Luckily, there is Bass Pro Shop. He likes hiking boots attractively arranged next to stuffed armadillos:



And I like fudge.

However, during our most recent shopping trip, I happened to wander into the the "Home and Cabin" section whilst the boyfriend was purchasing said fudge.

While I dislike things associated with being outdoors, I'm a big fan of things associated with being indoors. I spend hours poring over the house tours on Apartment Therapy, and I've been known to squeal over dinnerware. Apparently, the shopping gods looked down from their credit card clouds and took pity on my unfortunate situation. In their infinite wisdom, they understood that the princess and the lumberjack could live happily ever after, and would need appropriate decor for their well-armed castle:

 
Why not stare at the sad, judging eyes of the majestic creature you just slaughtered while you enjoy your meal?




It looks like antler, but it's plastic!




Big-Mouth Billy Bass' classy older brother.
Fish statuette (Not available online, from what I can find?)




Perfect for when you need a little extra light to skin an animal by.



And, of course, the proper throne.